22 January 2018
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  • » 12/28/2017, 16.45

    SRI LANKA

    Christmas in Colombo, a time to change life and share

    Melani Manel Perera

    Sri Lankan Catholics look at the true meaning of the birth of Christ: sharing, giving oneself, recognising one's limits, and learning to be reborn. "Christ showed how to be tolerant, even in the most tragic moment on the cross, loving and forgiving those who had condemned him to death."

    Colombo (AsiaNews) – In Sri Lanka, Christian families look at Christmas as a time to “change lifestyle, share, be more present in the family, forgive, stay together, recognise their weaknesses, and be reborn.” For many, Christmas is also a “time to decorate people’s hearts with love, compassion, and human feelings towards others.”

    Christmas "is the blessing of sharing love and also gifts with those in need,” said Chamudi Fernando, a Catholic teacher speaking to AsiaNews. “First of all, our Lord gave us a good example by sending his Son in our midst. This is the greatest gift to the world.”

    “Christianity is love,” he added. “For this reason, we are invited to bear witness to love during Christmas. One can share a little or a lot, but the important thing is we share."

    Sadly, "Christmas has been commercialised nowadays just as some churches have been captured by the spirit of commerce. For me instead, Christmas is different; I spend it visiting children at a special home."

    "Jesus, born an ordinary man, led a simple life, without thoughts about accumulating wealth,” said Tilak S Fernando, a Christian doctor and writer. However, “Despite his teachings of kindness and patience, today we see human beings governed by the forces of evil."

    "If we put the birth of Jesus under the microscope of the spirit, we would identify the weaknesses of each and learn to be reborn as better individuals and with new intentions.”

    “Christ showed how to be tolerant, even in the most tragic moment on the cross, loving and forgiving those who had condemned him to death ".

    "Christmas is the moment when God sends his Son to earth,” noted Rev Samuel Ponniah, an Anglican clergyman from Sri Lanka’s northern province. “God was not selfish; he gave his Son to humanity for the good of humanity itself.”

    “We too must be spokespeople for the spirit of giving in a selfish world, centred on consumerism. On a billboard advertising jumbo peanuts, someone wrote: ‘Do not give, but take'. It is against this culture that we must act."

    For Ainslie Joseph, a father of three, "God became man. We meet him in everyday life, especially when we encounter difficulties. He comes to our aid in times of need.”

    “The help given by someone's hand is the help given by God’s hand in response to our prayers. This powerful message is the joy of Christmas: God will continue to come among us as a kind, compassionate, loving human being."

    "Christmas is a family celebration. Even poor, a family stays together. Being together is more important than gifts, lights, postcards and parties."

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    EGYPT – LEBANON
    Muslims and Christians meet in Cairo for Jerusalem, 'the cause of causes'

    Fady Noun

    A conference was held on 16-17 January at al-Azhar. Many prominent figures from Lebanon took part, including the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi. The Arab world is divided between "complicit passivity" and "noisy but ineffective speeches". For a former Lebanese premier, coordinated actions are needed to ensure greater efficacy on behalf of Jerusalem’s "pluralistic identity " and "religious freedom". Card Al-Rahi called for joint prayers, Islamic-Christian interfaith solidarity in the Arab world, and support for the Palestinians.


    CHINA
    Yunnan: Christians accused of membership in an apocalyptic sect get up to 13 years in prison



    The Three Grades of Servants cult, an underground pseudo-Protestant sect founded in Henan, is especially strong in the countryside. Those convicted claim they are just ordinary Christians and know nothing about the sect. Defense lawyers have been threatened with loss of their license to practice.


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